What GoPro has done for adventure buffs and photographers alike is simply unbelievable. So the decision for us to finally put their new flagship product the Hero4 Black to the test was easy. An adventure camera catering to pros but easy enough for beginners to use, the Hero4 can be yours for a fairly affordable $500 bucks or so.
The camera’s processor is twice as powerful as its predecessor’s, allowing you to record at up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. It can also capture 1080p at 120fps, which can make for some very smooth video when shooting fast-moving scenes, as well as cool slow-motion clips. The Hero4 still eats battery life like crazy but with a high 60Mbps recording bitrate and you’ve got one powerful tiny camera.
The thing is, there isn’t a huge gap in performance or features between the Black and the excellent Hero4 Silver, which is $100 less and has a built-in touchscreen.
Design and features
Owners of the last model will notice some slight, but important changes with the Hero4. The most obvious being the new battery compartment design. No longer sliding through the back, it slides into the bottom. We found this does makes swapping batteries out easier. Unfortunately it should be noted, this change required a battery redesign as well, which ofcourse means you can’t use batteries from previous models.
Wi-Fi mode, doesn’t help battery life at all (of course). Battery life in general with any of these compact action cameras are not great, but that is the trade off we all make to get a camera that is small and powerful. In our tests of continuous recording in Protune mode with Wi-Fi off, at 4K and 30fps, we averaged about 48 minutes; with Wi-Fi on it recorded for around 37 minutes.
The major advantage the Hero4 Black has over the previous Silver is its recording resolutions, higher bitrate and faster frame rates. So if you need the best video, the Black is the one to get. The diverse resolution and frame-rate combinations are seemingly endless for video. Stills and time-lapse options are improved especially in lower light but still lacking. Although we did love their Night Photo and Night Lapse modes.
We definitely like the new menu since past models were a mess. GoPro simplified things by making everything based on which mode you’re in. If you’re in video-capture mode and press the settings button, you’ll only get the settings options for video. Since there are so many resolution, frame rate and other shooting options, we imagine this cut down menu hunting significantly.
Though it doesn’t have a built-in touchscreen, a Hero port is on back, which lets you attach GoPro’s LCD Touch BacPac or the Battery BacPac. So naturally we went ahead and grabbed both of those. There is also no microSD card included for storage, so plan on getting at least one of those.
Below is our sample video shot from our #FLtoYellowstone trip with the Hero4 Black
At the end of the day if you want the GoPro with the best video quality, the Hero4 Black is definitely the best.